Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wake, Far-Seer and their author Robert J. Sawyer

A Note from Valerie

Robert J. Sawyer
While on Facebook I joined in a dialog on the wall of Robert J. Sawyer. From the comments of his other Friends I became so intrigued that I decided to explore his websites to see just what books he has written. Since I have not yet read any of his books, the website, Facebook wall, and blog are all I personally have to go by. This is what I have discovered so far.~Valerie C.
This photo of Sawyer is from his Facebook Album and is a "Photo of Robert J. Sawyer by Christina Molendyk of Argent Dawn Photography, Calgary," says Sawyer.

The Science Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer

A visit to the website Robert J. Sawyer (Wake page) is a beautiful experience. The site and the book covers are all gorgeous and displayed creatively. The information is rich in useful content. The old and new blogs are not much of a visual feast, but the postings are all pure Robert: creative and informative (The old blog is a closer artistic match to the website, but is, I think, an archived page on the website itself.).

But we at RFF are more interested in the books, especially those that we can suggest for youth.
Robert Sawyer's Wake has a main character that is 15. This, by some definitions, places the novel into the YA category, or at least the YA suitable category.  Also, "Wake is a current Hugo and Aurora Award finalist — and a Globe and Mail national bestseller!" claims the blurb on Sawyer's blog,

A second Sawyer book for youth is Far-Seer, reviewed by "KLIATT: Young Adult Paperback Book Guide (Newton, Massachusetts) (starred review "highlighting an exceptional book"): 'This is a truly great piece of SF.'" [quoted from the review page:]. I suspect that all 3 books in this trilogy will be equally suitable for YA and possibly younger.
I explored Sawyer's website and discovered that this man who I had befriended on Facebook is much more prominent an author than I had expected. He has won numerous awards and is considered one of the top 30 in Canadian publishing according to the list produced by the publishing trade journal Quill & Quire.

But what got me interested in his books--which I must admit I have not yet read, although I have watched FastForward on TV--is a comment in a dialog on Sawyer's Facebook wall.
"Yochanan Urias
Before I actually met and talked with you, Robert I actually thought you were a believer, or at least a moderate agnostic from the thoughtful and kind way the characters in your novels approached religion. After discussing this with you at...Los Con a few years ago, I still find your writing to be thoughtful and respectful. Your wonderful character driven novels have characters that feel so real, that grapple with issues of faith and science. They neither ignore it all together or sweepingly dismiss it all. I appreciate that. I am a believer, but I do not celebrate Christmas in anyway. (I also collect all the Star Trek ornaments, but they sit beautifully on a shelf year round, the better to keep them mint-in-box, lol). I actually celebrate Hannukah. I am at peace and wish the same on all. Enjoy your celebrations no matter what you believe or not. And may you and your family have a wonderful time. Shalom!"

Intrigued, I visited the website, blog, and forum of Sawyer. This is what I found:
  1. Gotta read these books! The current book list is here:
  2. There is enough information on the page on Wake to build lessons for a science or technology class. Maybe even enough to begin a unit plan on computer technology for a physical science or technology class.
  3. After reading passages from his "fan fiction: Star Trek: Armada chapters, I like his writing style. One quickly enters the "universe" in which he writes and gets swept along emotionally into the story and its action.
  4. I suspect many of his works will be suitable for YA.

    • Far-Seer, the first novel in the Quintaglio Ascension universe trilogy (so far), tells the story of an dinosaur-alien scientist in a world of intelligent dinosaurs that is analogous to Galileo's story. In a collection of reviews, one called the book a "coming of age" novel and several reviewers claimed the characters were fun and the stories were exciting--perfect conditions for YA status.

    • Again, the book's webpages have info rich enough for lesson development. And what a way to introduce the scientific methods and Galilean lessons in science classes!

    • Additionally, he edited and wrote a story for the anthology Distant Early Warnings: Canada's Best Science Fiction, which includes a story by Julie Czerneda, who is famous in RFF for her lessons and books focusing on using science fiction in the classroom.

    • And here is a quote from the Reviews page for Far-Seer  "KLIATT: Young Adult Paperback Book Guide (Newton, Massachusetts) (starred review "highlighting an exceptional book"): 'This is a truly great piece of SF.'"
  5. I hope he keeps writing for a long time to come. I suspect many of you have already included his books on your book lists, but I am just discovering his works.

Why Sci Fi?

While exploring the links to Robert J. Sawyer, catch this essay The purpose of science fiction that Sawyer posted to his blog on 11/16/10.


If you have suggestions as to which of Sawyer's books are suitable to youth, please list the book(s) in the comments. I will oversee getting the list added to the book lists in the discussion threads of the RFF page on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. The first time I visited Robert J. Sawyer's website, I didn't leave it for at least an hour. Fascinating info and insights.